Candida albicans and Intestinal Candidiasis:

The Yeast that Can be Good, Can be Bad and Can be Ugly

Stephanie Schmotter


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Candida albicans is opportunistic yeast that naturally inhabits the throat, mouth, digestive tract and genitourinary tract of humans. In its yeast state, C. albicans lives in harmonious balance with other intestinal flora. But if the balance of intestinal flora is disrupted, C. albicans will multiply and convert into its parasitic fungal form. Such
Overgrowth of C. albicans is referred to as candidiasis. Although symptoms of candidiasis affect many parts of the body, I will focus on intestinal candidiasis. I will review the importance of C. albicans as “friendly bacteria,” what causes it to get out of balance, signs and symptoms of intestinal candidiasis and how it can me treated.

What is Candida Albicans?

THE GOOD: Candida Albicans are opportunistic yeast that lives in harmony with a variety of other microorganisms, mostly helpful bacteria, called probiotics, in human intestine. The bacterium to yeast ration in a healthy person is about 10:1. (Lisa, 2010) In its yeast
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form, C. albicans is a non-invasive, sugar-fermenting organism that works to recognize and destroy harmful bacteria. Without C. Albicans, we would be defenseless against many pathogenic bacteria. In a healthy person, Candida albicans numbers in the millions and is controlled by a properly functioning immune system and "friendly" bacteria.
THE BAD:external image candida_albicans_stages.jpg The yeast form of C. albicans is only half of the picture, and the other half is much more sinister. C. albicans is a dimorphic organism that, if given the opportunity, will transform into its fungal form, multiply and take over.
This happens if the balance of intestinal flora in the intestine is disrupted, decreasing the number of healthy probiotics needed to keep the opportunistic yeast under control (Rubin, 2003.)
Disruption of intestinal flora is most likely a result of:
1. Antibiotic therapy:
Antibiotics are often taken to cure conditions such as acne, respiratory infections, eczemas, ear and urinary infections, bronchitis and more. Along with killing the bad stuff, antibiotics, also knock out the friendly intestinal flora that control yeast and other potential invaders.
C. albicans aren’t affected by antibiotics, so they proliferate in number, putting out toxins that weaken the immune system. (Crook, 1999)

2.Faulty Nutrition:
C. albicans thrive off of sugar. (Think of beer and wine making! It depends on yeast to digest sugar, producing alcohol as a waste product!) Sugar, starch and yeast products act as food for the yeast in your gut, which makes it easy for it to overgrow.

3. Compromised immune system:
Ones immune system can be weakened by: poor nutrition, lack of sleep, constant stress, environmental pollution, certain drugs, chemotherapy, AIDS, cancer… steroids, birth control.
People with suppressed immune systems from AID's, radiation and chemotherapy and organ transplants, are common victims of candidiasis.

4. Hormonal Imbalances:
Hormonal imbalances can throw off the balance of intestinal flora.
Estrogen, the main ingredient in the pill, is known to promote the growth of yeast, thereby disrupting the balance of intestinal flora.

5. Stress:
Stress causes the body to release Cortisol, a hormone that depresses your immune system and raises your blood sugar level. C. albicans feed on the extra sugar and proliferate, while your weakened immune system is powerless to stop it. (Lisa, 2010)

When C. albicans transforms from its yeast-like form to its mycelial fungal form and becomes pathogenic, it sets off a cycle that leads to the further weakening of the body's defenses (Fungal Focus, 2003.)
In its fungal form, C. albicans produces long, filamentous hyphae, which can
penetrate and grow into the walls of the intestines.
external image candida_micro.jpg

Overgrowth of C. albicans in the intestine may lead to "leaky gut syndrome," a condition that is medically reffered to as ‘intestinal permeability,’ where the hyphae create tiny holes in the lining of the gut. The hyphae spread along the lining of the intestine, pulling cells apart and allowing harmful microorganisms and toxins to pass through (leak) and enter the circulatory system. (Candida Yeast, 2007)
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This can lead to many other systemic inflammatory and immune-related symptoms including: food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, eczema, fibromyalgia, Crohn's disease, Raynaud's phenomenon, chronic urticaria (hives), and inflammatory bowel disease.

C. albicans steals nutrients from the food that you eat, and then poisons the tissues with waste material containing over 75 known toxins. (Candida Yeast, 2007)

Possible symptoms of overgrowth include:
Digestive Troubles
Bad Breath,
Intestinal Pain,
Low Blood Sugar,
Food / sugar cravings,
Mouth or stomach ulcers,
Allergies (Air or Food),
Food Sensitivities,
Irritable bowel,
Mental & Emotional
Mental Fogginess, (Confused, spaced-out, blank stares, day dreaming)
Inability to Concentrate (Having to re-read the same thing twice)
Poor memory (Where are my car keys? or, Why did I come into this room?)
Mood Swings,
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Immune Problems
Chronic Fatigue,
Hay Fever

(Crook, 1999)

1. Diet
An anti-candida diet is the most important
aspect for treating the overgrowth
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of C.albican and restoring digestive health.
C. albicans thrive on sugar, so a diet must be followed which eliminates the food that the fungi need to survive.
An anti-candida diet bans all sugar, foods that contain sugar, sugary drinks, natural sugar (from fruit and fruit juice) and fermented foods (like soy sauce, vinegar, beer.) (Ruiz, 2003)

2. Probiotics:
Reinnoculating the gut with good bacteria will help keep C. albicans in check. Especially important is Lactobacillus acidophilus. It can be taken in the form of a supplement, or by consuming yogurt and kefir (Rubin, 154)

3. Biotin
Biotin suppresses the yeasts ability to form hyphae, preventing it from entering its invasive state. A study done by Dr. Yamaguchi and colleagues found that biotin prevents the conversion of the yeast form of Candida to its fungal form. (1,000 mcg. taken three to four times a day is recommended.) (Lillard, 2004)

4. Anti-Fungal Medicine
There are tons of remedies out there that claim to "cure" candidiases.
But, when it comes down to it, starving C. albicans of the food that they need and replenishing good intestinal flora, are most likely restore the balance of intestinal flora.

Other common forms of candidiasis, not focused on here, include are skin and mucosal infections such as:
· Thrush
· Recurring vaginal infections
· Dry, itchy, flaky skin
· Acne
· Jock itch
· Athlete's foot
· Severe diaper rash
(Fungal focus, 2003)

Sources Cited:
Candida Yeast Infection Leaky Gut, Irritable Bowel and Food Allergies. Published online in the National Candida Center (2007)

Fungus Focused Folks. 2003. Fungal Focus: The Unlimited Resource for Fungal and Yeast Infections. E-book. Fungus Focus LLC, 160 pp.

Lillard, S. Candida Albicans. Published online in Mold-Help 411,1 (2004)

Lisa, L. What is Candida Albicans? Published online in The Candida Diet 1 (2010)

Rubin, J. & Brasco, J. 2003. Restoring your Digestive Health. Kensington Publishing Corp., NY

Ruiz, D., Calderon, L., Sanchez, J. & Tay, J. Intestinal candidiasis. A clinical report and comments about this opportunistic pathology. Published online in Mycopathology 156, 9-11 (2002)

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